My line of work is entertainment. I am blessed with the job of making people happy. Whether I’m on stage playing bass guitar in my band, writing songs, publishing books, or producing films, I make money by making people smile. I’m a natural extrovert and I love what I do. And even more, I love being able to do it all with my bride and best friend, Char.
But the fact that my life’s output falls in the spectrum of entertainment does not mean that I do not have very sincere and passionate beliefs about things outside the bounds of my chosen field of work. Those who know me personally know that I follow the news and current events, I study history, I have firm views on faith, and I am a constant reader of non-fiction. But this is not why you come to me. You come to me for entertainment. I fancy myself as The Wizard in the famous song from Black Sabbath: “everyone’s happy when The Wizard walks by.” And so it is that I wear a mask. The mask fits me, I feel comfortable in the mask, and the mask is very much a reflection of a very real part of me. But only a part. There are other parts of me that I do not allow you to see.
I sometimes get annoyed when I see celebrity entertainers share their political views – as if their political views matter more than those of other people with jobs that aren’t in the public eye! Rubbish! For example, I absolutely love the 1970s/1980s rock band, The Police. Sting, the amazing bassist and lead vocalist for The Police, is very outspoken about his politics. But just because I admire him as a musician and songwriter does not mean that I have to necessarily agree with him on matters of religion or politics. I go to him for music, not for political thought. But for whatever reason the world seems to think that if a celebrity you enjoy speaks out on a social or political issue then his conclusions must be true. After all, he sure makes good music – he must know something about foreign military affairs, right? How insane! Let me ask you this: do you choose your presidential candidate based on what your plumber tells you while he’s unclogging your drain? Then why do entertainers think we should listen to them when they speak? Entertainment is an occupation – an occupation no more important than that of plumbers.
Elvis Presley was extraordinarily political. He was a staunch Republican and ultra conservative in his ideology. He believed strongly in personal freedom for all and viewed the liberal movement as a revolution that would ultimately remove those freedoms that he came to enjoy in his life. But he intentionally chose NOT to disclose this fact about himself to his fans… because he knew his limitations. He was an entertainer, not a politician. And he didn’t want to turn off his fans with his views on politics. That’s not why they came to him. They came to him for music. I admire this about Elvis and I’ve tried to mirror this in my life and career.
Occasionally, however, we all make mistakes – just like the one I’m about to make. You see, the big issue right now in the world of current events is the escalating tension around race relations. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear our news media speak of the next civil war being fought over this issue. It seems that over the past few years, things have gone down the toilet here in the U.S.A. in terms of race relations. We need a plumber.
A few close friends of ours – black friends – came to us recently to speak about the issue. I honestly found their views to be shocking. I’ve spent the past year reading several news stories on the subject. The Black Lives Matter movement. White Privilege. Protests over Confederate statues. Arguments regarding White Nationalists. Reparations for slavery. Then, I read an article online that was really just a copy of a woman’s Facebook post. I found the article to be completely offensive on every level. That was when this thought became clear to me: the media, being used by powerful world figures bent on the destruction of our country, is creating the movement. It is akin to brainwashing. If we continue to follow this path, I fear there is only one logical conclusion: hate. They will get the civil war they are trying to create… if we let them. I wrote the following piece to reflect my feelings on this issue and pose the only conclusion I see us reaching as we fall deeper and deeper down the drain. I ask you now to step outside the narrative being thrust upon you by world powers and the media and instead, to see each other as one. Because, after all, isn’t that the very definition of unity?
Here is the article I read that offended me: http://www.dailyo.in/variety/black-lives-matter-alton-sterling-dallas-police-shooting-donald-trump/story/1/11936.html
And here is the piece I wrote reflecting on the current race narrative in our nation:
Hello, my friend. I still call you that even though you systematically hate me.
I hate you? No I don’t.
You do, you just don’t realize that you do. You and everyone else like you.
No, I’m pretty well in touch with my feelings. Trust me, I do not hate you. You said it yourself. We are friends.
Sure, we are friends. But you hate me. Maybe you don’t hate me personally but you hate me systematically. And the fact that you don’t realize it shows that you need help.
I need help?
Yes, you need help. You need help to understand that you don’t mean to hate me but you do. You and everyone like you. It’s not something you can help, really. You see, this hatred you have toward me is systematic and symptomatic. You need help to understand that.
Where is my friend that I’ve known for so long? What has happened to you?
See? You hate me. You oppress me. You just trivialized my feelings and invalidated what I had to say.
Yes, and I will continue to invalidate invalid remarks. That’s what you do when something is not true.
But truth is an individual calculation. You may not see the truth I live with daily. That does not mean it is not true for me.
OK, while I disagree with that statement, let me play your game. You are wrong. I do not hate you.
And now you just invalidated what I had to say! See? It works both ways, then. Does that mean you hate me, too?
I cannot hate you the way you hate me.
Only according to you.
No, it’s the truth.
But you said it yourself. Truth is an individual calculation. I don’t believe that, but I will play your game. You hate me, too.
Let me phrase it another way. Let’s not use the word hate. Can we start over?
Hello, my friend! I still call you that even though I envy you.
You envy me?
I envy you for the many privileges that you have that I can never enjoy. You don’t know what you have systematically put me through. Things that you will never have to go through. Things that have made your life easier. And for that, I envy you.
Do you have any idea who you’re talking to and what I’ve been through in my life? Haven’t I shared with you enough? How can you trivialize what I have gone through and invalidate the pain it has caused me?
Please don’t compare singular experiences that have come and gone into and out of your life to the very fabric of what it means to be me. You will never understand.
Experiences? You say that like they were learning opportunities! How dare you! You have no idea how many years I have suffered, unable to progress through life, because of those “experiences.” You should thank God you never had those “experiences” in your life!
Even with your experiences, I envy you. And now, if you love me, you must recognize the reasons why I say that I envy the privileged life you live.
And if I don’t?
Then you don’t sympathize nor do you empathize with what I have gone through.
No, I don’t.
Because I hate you.
See? I told you so.